In honor of my mother’s birthday today (she would have been 78), I’d like to re-post my tribute to her from last year. Also, recently, I posted a 7 Quick Takes about the contents of her special box here.
Like most of us, Mom wasn’t perfect, but in many respects, she was a great example. When she became pregnant at age 47, her doctor insisted that she have an abortion. She refused and several months later, gave birth to my youngest sister (who is now a novice with the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia in Nashville). I am grateful for the many years I had with Mom, but I miss her very much.
In her memory, I’d like to share the eulogy I gave at her funeral reception five years ago:
Eulogy for Betti Power – August 14, 2007
Wife, mother, sister, grandmother, mother-in-law, stepmother, sister-in-law, aunt, cousin, friend. She was Betti (with an i).
To us, she was simply “Mom.”
She was witty, loving, generous, giving, unselfish.
She enjoyed her grandchildren (at right, with my son, Adam, 15 years ago), transcribing (and was the fastest typist I know). She loved surprising people, visiting Canada, talking on the phone, doing crossword puzzles, reading. Her favorite music was West Side Story, Jesus Christ Superstar, Abba and Fleetwood Mac.
Upon meeting Mom, most people immediately felt comfortable with her and she would often strike up conversations with people she didn’t know.
She cherished having a new baby when she was 47 and all that came with it: being a lunch mother, taking Laurie to dance lessons and Catholic school.
Mom was a proud graduate of Hallahan High School (class of ’51).
She loved Christmas shopping and would begin in July and be finished before November.
She enjoyed watching television and her favorite shows were the Sopranos, Law and Order, Price is Right, ER, Magnum PI and All in the Family. One of her favorite movies was “Titanic” and she would watch the DVD every few months.
She used some unique sayings: “God willing and the Creek don’t rise.” When asked if she could speak French, she would reply, “Sure, I can. Chevrolet, bouquet, Bon Ami.” When one of her kids was misbehaving, she would say, “I’m gonna drop kick you across Center Avenue.” Whenever I stood next to her, she would always say, “El, are you standing in a hole?” If we referred to her as “she” and not “Mom,” she would say, “Who’s she, the cat’s mother?” Whenever anyone asked how she was doing, she would reply, “Well, I’m still on this side of the grass, so I guess I’m doing fine.”
Mom described herself as an “independent,” but hasn’t voted for a Republican candidate since Eisenhower.
Whenever someone in the hospital or at home would ask if they could get her anything, she would almost always reply, “Tom Selleck.”
When asked what the most memorable days of her life were, she replied, “My wedding days and the days I gave birth to my five children.”
Mom was a fighter, not necessarily aggressive, but she’s had to survive some pretty challenging experiences: her first husband’s (my father’s) emotional breakdown; kidney failure when she was 33 which led to the removal of one of her kidneys and caused her to drop to 80 lbs (at five foot six, made her a walking skeleton); becoming a widow at 44; and, most recently, having to deal with COPD and emphysema over the last ten or so years. When she first became critically ill in 2004 and lapsed into unconsciousness, the doctors told us there was no hope for her, to take her off of life support. Instead, she eventually woke up. She finally came home after eight months of hospitalization to the new normal: oxygen machine, nebulizer treatments, myriad pills and medications. Although it was an uphill battle, she has always had a strong will to live.
Finally, in April, the doctors told Mom that there wasn’t much more they could do for her and that she would be sent home on hospice care. Upon arriving home, she asked my brother, “I’m coming home to die, right?”
Whenever any of us helped to take care of her, she always thanked us profusely, whether it was for emptying her commode chair, making her breakfast or dinner or a snack of a soft pretzel or an ice cream cone. She often apologized for being a burden. I told her that it was a joy to help take care of her, to give back to her just a small portion of what she had given to me, and I know my stepfather and my siblings all feel the same.
Mom, we miss you. Requiescat in pace.
Photos and Text copyright 2011 Ellen Gable Hrkach